California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has proposed adding a new amendment to the United States Constitution to address the escalating gun violence crisis, his office announced Thursday.
In a tweet, Newsom expressed the frustration of the American people with Congress’ inaction and highlighted the need for comprehensive gun safety measures through a new 28th Amendment, which, if passed, would restrict access to guns in all 50 states.
“Every time it’s the same, they tell us, we can’t stop these massacres,” Newsom said in the announcement video. “They say we can’t stop domestic terrorism without violating the Second Amendment.”
Newsom’s proposed amendment would raise the minimum age to purchase a gun to 21; implement universal background checks; establish a reasonable waiting period for gun purchases; and prohibit the civilian purchase of assault weapons. It also affirms that Congress, states and local governments can enact additional gun control measures.
Gun violence in the United States is a public health crisis, with over 40,000 people dying by guns every year, according to the advocacy group Everytown for Gun Safety. In January, California saw two mass shootings in three days.
In an interview with NBC News Thursday, Newsom said that many of the state’s laws on gun control are “being rolled back by the federal courts.” In 2021, a federal judge overturned California’s assault weapon ban, which had been in place for three decades, ruling it unconstitutional.
Following the Supreme Court’s 2022 decision in New York State Rifle & Pistol Association v. Bruen, many laws have been in flux as courts and state legislatures struggle with a lack of clarity on what gun restrictions are constitutional.
However, passing a new amendment to the Constitution is an uphill battle, and Newsom’s proposal is likely to be more performative than practical. Amendments can be requested via a joint resolution in Congress or by a constitutional convention requested by two-thirds of state legislatures. It would then have to be ratified by three-fourths of states — meaning that Newsom would need 33 other states to join his proposal, and then 38 states voting in favor to enact it.
All 27 existing amendments were proposed by Congress and not via a constitutional convention, according to the National Archives. However, Congress hasn’t passed a new amendment in over 30 years: The 27th amendment, which prohibits members of Congress from giving themselves salary increases during their current term, was passed in 1992. Meanwhile, other proposed amendments have failed over the years. In recent years, a revitalized push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment, which would guarantee equal rights regardless of sex, has been met with resistance.
And gun violence, in particular, has been extremely contentious, meaning a three-fourths consensus is extremely unlikely. Conservative politicians have largely resisted calls for stricter gun laws, arguing they would violate people’s constitutional rights to keep and carry guns to protect themselves.
However, Newsom suggested getting politicians in red states on board to pass an amendment is “possible because their constituency demands it.”
According to an April Fox News Poll, most voters favor prioritizing targeted gun control measures over arming citizens to decrease gun violence. Meanwhile, Gallup polling in late 2022 found that more than half of voters thought laws around gun sales should be stricter.
California currently has the strictest gun regulation laws in the nation, according to the Giffords Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence, which gave the state an A on its annual scorecard.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story gave the incorrect number of states needed to propose a constitutional amendment.